The U.S. Patent and Trademark Office’s failure to fix the glitches in its troubled computer search system continues to rile both agency examiners and public users and is likely to prompt renewed calls for a congressional probe, sources said. Despite the installation of new hardware and software and beefed-up employee training, patent searchers inside and outside the agency remain frustrated by the slowness of the BRS search engine and its tools, “EAST” and “WEST.”

Although there has been “a little” improvement in the system, Patent Office Professional Association President Ronald Stern said Jan. 21, people are “absolutely not” happy with it. “They have accommodated,” he said, either by searching paper files or by using the agency’s former automated system, “Messenger,” which the PTO has made available to its examiners. But, Stern said, Messenger is now accessible only through a commercial database, meaning the PTO must pay for online searches, a “very expensive” proposition for an agency many say is underfunded.